Guided only by the luminous moon, the pitch black highway sees our ragtag van with only its headlights billowing like a white smoke from the horizon. It passes through equally darkened small communities in between, each coping with rotating power interruptions. Small stores and houses are seen only through its flickering candles. I looked out the window and could only see faces hiding from the dark staring back at our moving van. Every few ticks off the map, we passed by military checkpoints, some are deserted while some were manned by heavily armed marines. Each time we would nod out at the flashlight beaming forward to our faces. I've heard stories about fake military checkpoints, highway bandits and how treacherous the Pan-Am highway could be. In fact, a few people have warned us from leaving Cotabato City on a night trip.
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Friday, January 18, 2013
Monday, January 7, 2013
Lauren and I arrived back at Cotabato City from Sultan Kudarat a little past four in the afternoon. Missing the last trip to Pagadian, the dispatcher at the van terminal still insists that we reserve for the first trip the next day. I saw no reason for doing that since there's going to be many trips scheduled for the next day. So as we proceed to Plan B - which is to rendezvous with a fellow traveler Dennis, who was staying at a nearby budget hotel, dozens of people surrounded us, each pointing to either of the two van terminals, all wanting us to book tickets to a trip ain't happening that day. I told them we're not going anywhere since there are no more trips. "Pay now for tomorrow's trip" one of em said. I keep on politely rejecting them. All of them are after the commission in exchange for bringing passenger(s), since the two terminals aren't just in a friendly business competition with each other. They were operated by two different tribes.
Sunday, January 6, 2013
As the cocking sounds of rifles begins to reverberate into the open air of the grassy Kindley Airfield, Jibin Arula only has a matter of few seconds to save his life. Not enough time to even warn his fellow Muslims about their impending fate. As the machine gun starts pumping bullets towards their direction. The group of 60 young men ordered to line up sees horror and before anyone could move, bodies starts falling amidst the cries of pain and shock. Jibin Arula maneuvers his body, twisting in the air, crashing a hundred meters down, scratching his free falling body into the sharp edges of the cliff, hurling towards the water and leaving his life into the hands of Allah. That was the day of March 18, 1968 - of what would be known as the "Jabidah Massacre".